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Weekly Interest

332 Landslide

332 Landslide

January 30, 2011

Why don’t the free marketeers of education believe in, you know, the free market?

"To be clear, I don’t buy the assumptions or the vocabulary of the “free marketers” one bit and they don’t, either. If they did, you’d hear more about compensation for teachers, a consideration that is as Econ 101 as it gets. Their real goal is to bust the unions, which they see as dangerous bastions of liberal thinking, and to transform the education system into a training system that will produce reliable worker bees for the engines of commerce. Quiet worker bees who don’t rock the boat."

"Here’s the problem. Take any senior leader in any successful company in America. Ask him (let’s assume it’s a him for obvious reasons) if he believes he deserves his very high salary, and if so, why. My guess is that he’ll think he does important work and that the more valuable you are, the more compensation you will and should command. Ask him if the company could get somebody to do his job for half as much money and he’ll probably say sure, but you get what you pay for. Ask if he believes that these principles hold for others in his organization and he’ll likely talk about the importance of attracting and retaining top talent (odds are he’ll use those exact words, in fact) and he will probably allow that if his top competitor pays better that his company will be at a disadvantage.

This is Economics 101, first day of class."

Read the rest of this article at Scholars & Rogues.

Where we Stand - Education in America - PBS

Waiting on Superman - Variety

The Story of American Public Education - PBS

US Education Dashboard - ED.GOV

January 25, 2011

Resolution Banning Corporate Personhood Introduced in Vermont

AlterNet / By Christopher Ketcham

On the anniversary of the Citizens United decision, Vermont politicians are moving to deny corporations the rights that humans enjoy.

"Corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires," wrote Stevens. "Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their 'personhood' often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."

Read the rest of the story at AlterNet.

Pause the TV and take a little time to learn about the history, and original purpose, of the American Corporation:

Click here to view all 23 parts.

January 22, 2011

Republicans Seek Cuts to Energy Star, Weatherization, Advanced Energy Research, Puppies..

Start with the obvious: There are no cuts to America's bloated military budget, which was somewhere north of $660 billion in 2010, more than the rest of the world's defense spending combined. And there are no cuts to the sprawling, opaque Department of Homeland Security, which costs more than $50 billion a year. In maintaining global empire and expanding the security state, every dollar is sacred.

There are also no cuts to fossil-fuel or corn-ethanol subsidies. No corporate contributor to the Republican Party will find anything to fear. The bill might as well be called the Thumbing Liberals In the Eye Act of 2011. It's a laundry list of targets conservatives have been after for decades, most of which will make no appreciable difference to the nation's fiscal health.

Here are a few proposed cuts that might be of particular interest to Grist readers:

Energy Star Program: $52 million a year.

Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants: $2.5 billion a year.

DOE Weatherization Grants to States: $530 million a year.

Amtrak Subsidies: $1.565 billion a year. (There are no cuts to highway subsidies, of course.)

Technology Innovation Program: $70 million a year. (Wait, I thought support for innovation was "post-partisan"!)

Applied Research at Department of Energy: $1.27 billion a year.New Starts Transit: $2 billion a year.

Subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: $12.5 million a year.

Title X Family Planning: $318 million a year.
Appalachian Regional Commission: $76 million a year. (Why do we need this? They already have coal mines there!)

FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: $200 million a year.

Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority: $150 million a year.

National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program: $56.2 million a year.

Read the whole story HERE.

January 17, 2011

Wal-Mart Is Not a Person

"We the People are the first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution; and from its adoption until the Robber Baron Era in the late nineteenth century, people meant human beings. In the 1886 Santa Clara case, however, the court reporter of the Supreme Court proclaimed in a “headnote”—a summary or statement added at the top of the court decision, which is separate from the decision and has no legal force whatsoever—that the word person in law and, particularly, in the Constitution, meant both humans and corporations.

Thus began in a big way (it actually started a half century earlier in a much smaller way with a case involving Dartmouth University) the corruption of American democracy and the shift, over the 125 years since then, to our modern corporate oligarchy."

"McCain-Feingold was a good bipartisan achievement by conservative senator John McCain and liberal senator Russ Feingold to limit the ability of corporations to interfere around the edges of campaigns."

"But the law offended the members of the economic elite in this country who call themselves “conservatives” and believe that they should be able to spend vast amounts of money to influence electoral and legislative outcomes."

"By having free-speech rights equal with people, Stevens argued, corporations will actually harm the “competition among ideas” that the Framers envisioned when they wrote the First Amendment:

“[A] corporation...should have as its objective the conduct of business activities with a view to enhancing corporate profit and shareholder gain.” In a state election...the interests of nonresident corporations may be fundamentally adverse to the interests of local voters. Consequently, when corporations grab up the prime broadcasting slots on the eve of an election, they can flood the market with advocacy that bears little or no correlation to the ideas of natural persons or to any broader notion of the public good. The opinions of real people may be marginalized."

Read the rest of this '1st in a series' HERE.

The original version of this post included a banner from wakeupwallmart .com. The links used for that banner now point to a UFCW union webpage where they are promising to make things better. I'm not sure if wakeupwallmart was always a part of this union website, but I do know they have removed all of the pages from the wakeup site. Perhaps under pressure from the giant one? wakeupwalmart com banners ticker ticker150x200 html

January 10, 2011

Congress Calls for More Science Before Arctic Ocean Drilling

WASHINGTON (December 21, 2010) - Thirty-four members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined an effort spearheaded by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Rep. James Moran (D-VA), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) to ask Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to stick to his commitment to make science-based decisions on oil and gas development in the Arctic Ocean. In a letter sent to Sec. Salazar on Friday, the 38 members asked him to ensure that “we have the basic science and necessary spill response capacity before proceeding with any drilling in the Beaufort Sea and the rest of the Arctic.”

Despite a continued lack information about the Arctic’s fragile marine environment, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) is currently processing Shell Oil’s application to drill in the Arctic's Beaufort Sea, 12 miles off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in an area designated as critical habitat for the threatened polar bear that also serves as vital feeding and migration grounds for the endangered bowhead whale.
Read the rest HERE.

Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain Terrestrial Wildlife Research Summaries

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, The Wildlife:

Beck, Boehner: Arctic Refuge Is A ‘Wasteland,’ Wildlife ‘Couldn't Care Less’ About Drilling

US Energy Admin: ANWR Can Only Produce 780,000 of 21,000,000 Barrels Needed

Potential ANWR Oil is Simply Not Enough

Offshore Drilling: A Few Useful Facts

January 9, 2011

Wolfing Down Fossil Fuels

The Annual Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration sums up the government’s best estimates of energy trends through 2035. Buried in the projections is a seismic change in energy policy, and it’s about coal. The EIA is projecting that utilities won’t build any new coal-fired electricity plants in the United States, aside from the projects already under construction or built as “clean coal” experiments. The projections say that all our new electricity plants are expected to be either renewables like wind and solar, or natural gas (which releases about half the carbon emissions of coal).


But if you look at the long-term projections, the amazing thing is how little the energy mix will change in 25 years. Right now, we get 84 percent of our energy from fossil fuels. In 2035, we’ll still be getting 78 percent of our energy from fossil fuels. Read the rest Here.

The Center for Public Integrity

The 380,000-plus-word database presented here allows, for the first time, the Iraq-related public pronouncements of top Bush administration officials to be tracked on a day-by-day basis against their private assessments and the actual “ground truth” as it is now known. Throughout the database, passages containing false statements by the top Bush administration officials are highlighted in yellow. The 935 false statements in the database may also be accessed by selecting the “False Statements” option from the “Subject” pull-down menu and may be displayed within selected date ranges using the selection tool below. Searches may also be limited by person or subject, or both, by using the appropriate selections from the pull-down menus.